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Power steering

Letters

Antony Oliver (NCE Comment, 1 December) is right to imply that demand side issues need to be a central feature of a sensible energy policy. He is also correct to point out that nuclear power cannot be 'the all-encompassing energy panacea'.

What nuclear power can be, however, is a significant element within an energy policy directed at delivering a low carbon future.

The Royal Academy of Engineering believes that Britain's energy policy needs to be sustainable, secure and affordable. We support plans to have a broad public dialogue about how we achieve this policy but we reject attempts to characterise it as nuclear versus renewables. The debate needs to focus on the price we are prepared to pay to secure a low carbon future.

The evidence indicates that the economic case for new nuclear power stations has improved considerably compared to previous designs and suggests that the quantities of waste material likely to be generated will be significantly reduced.

The cademy's ecent report The Cost of Generating Electricity does indeed suggest further scrutiny of the commercial claims for new nuclear power stations.

It highlights a host of other areas - not just related to nuclear - where a better understanding of costs would be useful in the formation of energy policy.

Philip Greenish, chief executive, Royal Academy of Engineering, 29 Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 3LW

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